Moving to comment moderation due to TypePad not protecting against comment spam
Newspapers fighting to survive - disrupting habits by dropping home delivery days...

Of choosing a new image/avatar - and wondering why we choose the images we do?

So I'm thinking of changing the "avatar" image I use across all my blogs and social networks.

In truth, I quite like the current image I have been using (pictured on right), because I'm not really a big fan of most of the pictures of me that are out there. But with this particular one I like the profile... I'm almost smiling... and the purple and pink background is distinctive. My image can easily be found in a batch of other images. I'm also looking to the right, which is again just different from so many of the other images out there.

This image has worked well for me as I've used it across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, all my various blogs, my Gravatar, and basically every other social network I'm in (and I'm in a lot as part of my job). Given that "Dan York" is a rather generic name in English, and that there are a good number of other "Dan Yorks" out there, I've tried to use one image everywhere so that when people see my account on some service, they have a very easy visual clue that it is, in fact, the Dan York they know. It's part of my online identity... a bit of personal branding, etc.

However, there's a fundamental problem with the image - I only have it in low resolution.

And in fact, very low resolution. For all the many positive comments I've received about that particular image, the truth is that it is simply a screen capture of a random frame in a video interview that Jeff Pulver did with me back at Fall VON in October 2007. That's it. A screen capture of a web video. No pro photographers. Nothing like that.

The problem is that when conferences ask me for a "headshot", in my ideal world I'd like to give them the same shot that I have on my website and social networks... but I can't give them this one. So I need a new image for which I also have a higher resolution image.

I've thought of going to a local photographer for a shoot... and I may still do that, but as I wrote about over on a Voxeo blog, I was fortunate to have some great shots taken of me out at eComm by photographer Duncan Davidson (click any of the images to jump to his site - you can then click between the images on his site):


(And do check out the rest of the eComm 2009 image gallery - I'm quite impressed by Duncan Davidson's work.)

As Duncan has very kindly given speakers permission to use them for headshots, blogs, etc., I'm now toying with using a cropped version of one of those shots. Something like maybe one of these:

danyork1-1.png danyork3.png danyork2.png danyork8-1.png

I'm thinking maybe the last one... mostly because it's off-center a bit. What do you think?

All of this got me thinking and wondering these thoughts:

  • What do you like in an avatar shot?
  • What made you choose the one that you are using now?
  • Do you like close-up images or farther away?
  • Do you like just the person in them or with other people/kids/significant-others/animals?
  • Serious? Funny? Muted backgrounds? Distinct backgrounds? Posed? Casual?
(Or are you perhaps not the over-analyzing, over-thinking type that I am and just put up random shots and change them around all the time?)

There's no right answer, of course... in this world of social media we all get to choose this part of our online identity... and that persona can of course change and morph over time as we ourselves do. Still, I find it interesting to think about - why do we choose the images we do?

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either subscribing to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter or